In an obscene attempt to obtain political mileage, the Democrats are claiming that President Bush is responsible for the outbreak of war in the Middle East. Howard Dean claims that the war would not have occurred if the Democrats had been in power because the Dems would have worked the past six years to prevent it. And Sen. Dodd has made basically the same assertion. Meanwhile, Rep. Jane Harman contends that the Bush administration is to blame for our poor to non-existent relations with Syria and Iran which, she says, prevent us from using diplomacy to end the crisis.
Once again, the Democrats are taking partisan politics to a previously unknown low. No past opposition party has attempted to blame the outbreak of an Arab-Israeli war on the party in power. Unless I’m mistaken, the Repubicans didn’t blame President Johnson for the war in 1967; the Dems didn’t blame President Nixon for the war in 1973; nor did they blame President Reagan for the hostilities in Lebanon that occurred on his watch. Moreover, it is especially reprehensible for the Dems to be taking such a low road now, when unlike before, the U.S. is in the middle of essentially the same war as Israel — the war on terrorism.
The Harman claim, that we could solve this crisis if only we had relations with Syria and Iran, is so naive as to require little discussion. Syria and Iran don’t act criminally because we lack good relations with them; we lack good relations with them because they act criminally. The Democrats’ belief that they could somehow talk Syria and Iran out of acting like extremist Islamic states bent on destroying Israel should alone disqualify the party from controlling, or even influencing, U.S. foreign policy.
The Dean-Dodd claim that the Democrats, through their tireless efforts, would have prevented this war ignores the fact that the efforts that the Dems have (and would have) engaged in are not reasonably calculated to prevent war in the Middle East. Under President Clinton, the Dems attempted to push Israel into making territorial concessions. Indeed, the concession that led to Hezbollah’s ability to strike deep into Israeli terrority with missiles and that emboldened Hezbollah to start a war with Israel(Israel’s pull-out from Lebanon) occurred during the Clinton administration. This doesn’t mean that the Democrats are to blame for the war. First, Israel had the option of not making territorial concessions. Second, the Bush administration too has encouraged Israel to “take risks for peace” — our policy towards Israel contains bipartisan flaws. Third, the blame in any case resides with Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, not the U.S. But the fact remains that Clinton’s policies for preventing war were profoundly misguided in ways that are material to the current crisis. Under these circumstances, it is disgraceful for the Dems to blame the war on President Bush.
Remember, though, this is the party that brokered the deal that enabled North Korea to obtain nuclear weapons, yet now blames that regime’s nuclear status on President Bush. In terms of the style of its propaganda, this is a party in which Joseph Goebbels would feel at home.